With all they’re balancing in life and in their education, adult learners (students who begin college at age 25 or above) have some added challenges that students attending college fresh out of high school may not. We recently surveyed thousands of adult learners to find out more about the types of responsibilities they’re balancing.

Balancing acts

Naturally, each balancing act is as unique as the individuals themselves. As expected, the vast majority of respondents are also balancing full or part-time work. Many are also balancing family life on top of school and work, some being single parents.

In addition to this, we must all make time for ourselves. Many respondents shared that they also make time for activities such as charity and volunteer work, fitness and religion. Here are just a few examples of hard-working adult learners’ work loads:

  • “Work, school, charity work, social life, family demands.”
  • “Spouse’s career goals, 2 kids, physical fitness, finding extra hours for study”
  • “Full time job and part time job. I have a eight year old, and a six year old. And full time student.”
  • “Full time work, full time parent of two who are very involved in extra activities, full time classes.”
  • “Full time job, volunteer firefighting, church activities, and of course school”
  • “School, active duty military, volunteering, husband, son.”

Adult learners balance everything from family life to multiple jobs — all on top of school work. Share these tips with your students and colleagues for how to stay ahead.

Set a schedule

Set aside the appropriate amount of time each week to complete homework and studying. Establishing a schedule will help you keep your momentum and stay focused.

If you’re the primary caregiver for children, this includes making their schedules and ensuring that they stick to them. Plan out your schedule on a physical wall calendar or on a digital calendar such as Google Calendar, which allows you to easily plan hour-by-hour and set up recurring events.

Keep it separated

Don’t think about work while you should be studying, and don’t try to study while you’re at work. Let your instructors and your boss know what your other commitments are, but don’t expect special treatment because of them. Some employers and educators will be flexible, allowing you to complete tasks early. However, others may have very different expectations.

Some employers will pay for part or all of your tuition if you are continuing your education in the same field, so don’t be afraid to tell your employer you’re taking classes.

Ask for help

Often those who give up on their academic paths do so after never asking for help. College is not meant to be easy. There are many resources available to help you succeed, such as tutoring or writing labs. don’t be afraid to ask your advisor or professors for assistance.

And don’t forget your family and friends. You’ll need their support when life gets busy. It might be as simple as providing support and encouragement when you are not available to socialize. They may also be able to assist with necessities such as childcare when you find yourself in a jam.

What suggestions do you have for adult learners balancing school, work, and family life? Share your ideas below.